Justin Verlander is considered by most to be the best pitcher in baseball, certainly the best in the American League. But now he has to prove it all over again, and probably will.
Despite fairly similar stats in 2012 after his AL MVP/Cy Young-winning year in 2011, Verlander did not win a second consecutive Cy Young Award. That honor went to the Tampa Bay Rays’ David Price, who went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.
Verlander is a good sport. Through his Twitter account, @JustinVerlander, he said, “Congrats to @DAVIDPrice14 on Cy Young!”
It was the closest vote since a tie in 1969, with Price getting 14 first-place votes and Verlander receiving 13. Verlander finished just four points behind Price 153-149. Price had 13 second-place votes and one third-place vote, while Verlander received 13 second-place votes and two third-place votes.
The Ft, Worth Star-Telegram’s Drew Davison gave a first-place vote to former Tiger Fernando Rodney.
FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi gave his first-place vote to Price, with Verlander second, citing Price’s effectiveness against the stronger AL East foes. Price was 10-2 with a 2.51 ERA against AL East teams.
Price also won the Players Choice award for AL Outstanding Pitcher.
Verlander went 17-8 with a 2.64 ERA and 1.057 WHIP. He also struck out a league-leading 239 compared to Price’s 205. In 2011, Verlander was 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 250 strikeouts.
The Los Angeles Angels’ Jered Weaver was the other finalist. Weaver was 20-5 with a 2.81 ERA and a league-leading 1.018 WHIP. Weaver had 142 strikeouts. Most likely the thing that hurt Weaver was the fact that he only threw 188 2/3 innings compared to a league-leading 238 1/3 for Verlander and 211 for Price.
The two voters from the Los Angeles chapter voted for Weaver ahead of Verlander.
The one category where Verlander definitely suffered compared to Price and Weaver was run support. After getting 4.73 runs per 27 outs in 2011, that number fell to 3.98 in 2012. Price got 4.8 and Weaver an incredible 6.03 runs per 27 outs.
Those particular numbers make you think of what happened to Verlander in Cleveland on May 24.
Verlander allowed just two runs, including Shin-Soo Choo’s leadoff bomb, but the Tigers offense was snoozing that day. But the thing that stood out most to everyone was the display Verlander put on in the eighth inning.
He struck out the side, which included throwing 102 mph on his 116th pitch, before getting Asdrubal Cabrera on an 84-mph curveball that left Cabrera shaking his head.
“I was trying to light a spark,” Verlander said at the time. “I felt like maybe if I was able to go out there and just dominate an inning, get our guys back in there quick, maybe something would happen.”
Although it didn’t happen that time, Verlander showed the kind of pitching that only he is capable of doing.
And as everyone knows, Verlander likes to win — at everything. So it would not surprise anybody if he comes back even stronger next season and takes back the Cy Young.